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Senghor, Anouma confirm withdrawals as Motsepe set for Caf presidency

Patrice Motsepe speaks during his manifesto launch for his Caf presidency bid at Sandton Convention Centre on February 25 2021 in Johannesburg.
Patrice Motsepe speaks during his manifesto launch for his Caf presidency bid at Sandton Convention Centre on February 25 2021 in Johannesburg.
Image: Thulani Mbele/Sowetan

The Senegalese candidate for the Caf presidency, Augustin Senghor, has officially withdrawn from the race and pledged his support to South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe.

With Ivorian Jacques Anouma also confirming his withdrawal Motsepe is set to be confirmed Caf president at the March 12 elective congress in Rabat, Morocco on March 12.

This follows the reports that Senegalese Football Federation president Senghor and Mauritanian FF president Ahmed Yahya had agreed, in a deal brokered by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, to withdraw their candidacies in a meeting in Rabat, Morocco last weekend.

Senghor, in a statement announcing his withdrawal, confirmed the meeting, where it was agreed that Senghor and Yahya would serve as Motsepe’s vice-presidents.

The fourth candidate, Anouma, confirmed his withdrawal on Ivory Coast television, saying: “After several reflections and consultations, I decided to give up my candidacy for the election to the presidency of Caf.”

Anouma, also part of the meeting in Rabat, reportedly agreed to a role as Motsepe’s adviser.

Senghor’s statement added: “The parties also agreed that the final agreement should be concluded in Nouakchott [in Mauritania] on the sidelines of the CAN U-2O [Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations] final on Saturday March 6, 2021.”

The statement read: “After consultations with the Senegalese authorities during the discussions in Rabat and the approval of the FSF emergency committee during its meeting held on Tuesday March 2, 2021, taking into account the particular context of this campaign, we have decided to accept the consensual proposal submitted to us by Fifa, Morocco and Egypt, in the name of the superior interest of the unity of African football that we have put forward in our profession of faith.

“It seems to us that this is the best decision that we could take after a lucid analysis of the current situation of Caf and of the imperative need to favour a synergy of actions of all the skills to rectify it: a team, a team to raise African football.

Senghor’s statement said the discussions agreed on, “a programmatic axis consisting in agreeing on a common management program resulting from the synthesis of the manifestos of the four candidates”. And also “an axis of collegial and concerted governance based on consensual distribution of functions within the office of the executive committee between the candidates in the running”.

“A report sanctioned the said discussions in the presence of Mr Fouzi Lekjaa, President of the Federation Royale Marocaine de Football, which was declared a depositary without the power to disclose it.”

“ ... The withdrawal of my candidacy for the Presidency of CAF for the benefit of another Candidate will not be shared by all for various reasons, I am aware of this. But I think it’s a good decision, the right decision.

“Achieving the objective of a strong, united, more efficient and more attractive CAF is worth all the sacrifices, even that of renouncing legitimate personal ambitions in favour of collective and participatory leadership, the only guarantee of a rebirth of CAF expected by all Africans.”

Motsepe’s candidacy was first announced, seemingly as a rank outsider, by the SA Football Association (Safa) in November.

The Mamelodi Sundowns owner and billionaire mining magnate and Safa president Danny Jordaan traveled the continent campaigning. Motsepe had been backed by the influential support of Cosafa president Phillip Chiyangwa, Nigerian FA president Amaju Pinnick and TP Mazembe owner Moise Katumbi.

Previous Caf president Ahmad Ahmda, who overthrew the 29-year reign of Issa Hayatou in 2017 backed by Jordaan, Chiyangwa and Pinnick, was banned from football for five years by Fifa for ethics violations in November.

Ahmad has an appeal of his ban being heard, from Tuesday, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in Lausanne, but even if he is successful an attempt by Madagascan to enter the presidential race at this late stage would appear futile.